Columnist, San Francisco Examiner and California Development Organizer, Mothers Out Front
Robyn is a mother of two young children and a dedicated environmental advocate. After years practicing environmental law, Robyn decided to pursue a career in journalism. She founded EdenKeeper.org to explore the connection between the environment and religion, and has contributed to Huffington Post, Sojourners, CleanTechnica, and Think Progress. In 2015, she began writing for the San Francisco Examiner as a columnist. Robyn also works for Mothers Out Front, a nonprofit mobilizing mothers, grandmothers, and others to protect a livable climate for all children.
How did you become interested in environmental work ?
I’ve always had a very curious nature and an affinity for the generations who came before me, as well as the generations who will come after me — especially now that I have kids.
I credit the people who nurtured these personality traits for my interest in environmental work. My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Duncan, for example, took us to Torrance Beach in Southern California every week, and taught us about ocean health, marine biology, and geology. His hands-on style of teaching piqued my interest in the world. I led my first environmental campaign, to protect dolphins from tuna nets, while in his class.
The interest Mr. Duncan helped foster has never waned. The more I explore the world around me, the more I see how drastically things have changed over the past century and how unsustainable this is for the future.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Climate change, the rapid loss of biodiversity, environmental toxins, and plastic pollution are equally alarming. But I believe poor communication underlies them all, so that’s the most concerning issue to me.
It’s difficult to comprehend how incredibly large, dynamic, complex and interdependent the environment is and how it affects people around the planet differently. While our understanding is growing, it’s still miniscule. Non-scientists often struggle with scientific debate. Special interests can easily seize on the magnitude of environmental issues and confusing science to overwhelm and feed deniers and skeptics.
Good communication acknowledges data gaps while conveying the significance of the situation and potential solutions. Organizers can take this information, spread it and shape better, bipartisan policies.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
It’s amazing to see how the Women’s March and #MeToo movement have galvanized and mobilized women across the country. At the same time, climate change is becoming much more immediate to people.
It’s no surprise that women-led, climate-focused organizations like Mothers Out Front are also growing. In almost six years, we’ve gone from a handful of mothers expressing their private fears about climate change in a kitchen to a movement over 23,000 strong. I am so excited by the women working to transition away from fossil fuels and open the environmental conversation to all regardless of background, income, race, and political party.
Being a mother and environmental advocate isn’t without challenges though. Volunteering, networking, and living a zero-waste life become particularly difficult when it’s hard to find time to shower. Fortunately, communities such as Mothers Out Front and Women’s Environmental Network can provide support and understanding as we work to raise the next generation and fight for their future.